Summary and book reviews of Protect and Defend by Richard North Patterson

Protect and Defend

by Richard North Patterson

Protect and Defend
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2000, 544 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2001, 608 pages

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Book Summary

Patterson gives us the resounding clash of competing ambitions between the president and the majority leader; the equally momentous collision of science and culture in the courtroom; and the legal process from the perspective of the judge.

A compelling new novel from Richard North Patterson - a major departure, and that confirms his place among the most important popular novelists at work today.

A newly elected president faces the unexpected chance to nominate a new chief justice of the Supreme Court. His first choice is a nationally respected Court of Appeals judge, a woman whose nomination faces two serious obstacles: a long-held personal secret; and the prospect that a volatile abortion case, a trial pitting a 15 year-old girl against her pro-life parents, will come before the court. And the Senate majority leader is determined to thwart the president's nomination for reasons that cross the boundary between the political and the personal.

As these stories intertwine, building in complexity and suspense, Patterson gives us the resounding clash of competing ambitions between the president and the majority leader; the equally momentous collision of science and culture in the courtroom; and, in an unprecedented novelistic depiction of the legal process from the perspective of the judge rather than the lawyers, a revelation of both how the judicial system works and how it intersects with politics, for better or for worse.

Protect and Defend is a triumph - the definitive novel of politics and law at the dawn of the 21st century.

Excerpt
Protect and Defend

"I, Kerry Francis Kilcannon . . ."

In a high clear voice, carrying a trace of Irish lilt, Kerry Kilcannon repeated the historic phrases intoned by Chief Justice Roger Bannon.

The two men faced each other on the patio which fronted the west side of the Capitol, surrounded by guests and officeholders and watched from greater distances by thousands of well-wishers who covered the grounds below. The noonday was bright but chill; a heavy snow had fallen overnight, and the mist of Bannon's words hung in the air between them. Though Kerry wore the traditional morning coat, those around him huddled with their collars up and hands shoved in the pockets of much heavier coats. Protected only by his traditional robe, the Chief Justice looked bloodless, an old man who shivered in the cold, heightening the contrast with Kerry Kilcannon.

Kerry was forty-two, and his slight frame and thatch of chestnut hair made him seem startlingly young for the office. At his ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

USA Today - Carol Memmott

... engrossing from the first page, and my discomfort turn to fascination as Patterson cranked up a wild ride on a roller coaster of morality, politics and emotions.

Wall Street Journal - Tom Nolan

Mr. Patterson's characters of all political stripes are convincingly and memorably drawn. Through their public actions and backstage maneuvers, Protect and Defend builds to a powerful catharsis.

Kirkus Reviews

A blissfully large-scale political thriller that’s also an unsparing examination of tough questions about abortion, by an author shrewd and generous enough to give spokespeople of every persuasion their day in court.

Publisher's Weekly

Excelling as both a political novel and a tale of suspense, Patterson's latest takes a provocative look at the ethics of abortion and the power plays endemic to American politics, skewering the Christian Right, the gun lobby and campaign financing along the way.

Author Blurb Barbara Boxer
In an intimate and personal way, Protect and Defend brings the reader into he toughest and most divisive issue of our time...abortion. The brilliantly interwoven stories demonstrate how even the most powerful can be destroyed by it. Whatever your view, Richard North Patterson should be commended for his masterful work.

Author Blurb Alan M. Dershowitz, professor, Harvard Law School
More realistic than Advise and Consent, Protect and Defend raises the political novel to a new level. This mesmerizing account of the confirmation battle over our first female Chief Justice--played out against the background of a compelling late-term abortion drama--will change the way you think about the people, the politics and the psyches of those who govern. As only Richard North Patterson could do, Protect and Defend takes us into the minds, hearts, and souls of his richly textured characters. The twists and turns of courtroom, committee room and Oval Office mirror today's headlines--only more probing, more revealing, and more fun. A riveting read that will entertain and educate you. I plan to recommend it to my students, colleagues and friends--even to my opponents, because it will totally preoccupy them.

Reader Reviews

Ken Irving

The abortion arguments put forward in the courts made compelling reading and put the reader in the inenviable position of being able to sit in the judge's chair as it were. My own reasoning flowed to and fro with the testimomy and I found myself ...   Read More

Chip Browning

I believe it takes a lot of courage to choose the most divisive issue in America--abortion--as the central theme for a work of fiction, but despite his obviously pro-choice views, Richard North Patterson's writing gives surprising and compelling ...   Read More

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